Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Saigon Night

Address: 915 Fort St.
Phone: (250) 384-2971
Price: ~$12 a dish
Notes: Family-friendly Vietnamese

Vietnamese food on Fort St. is reported to be a bit hit-and-miss, but going just a block or two out of the main core and Saigon Night is a solid choice. The menu contains all the 'standard' favourites: pho, rice noodle dishes and spring rolls. The restaurant is long and skinny with bright coloured walls and mirrors to add to a feeling of openness. It truly is family restaurant, complete with a nest of children peeking out from behind the counter when you settle up. Keeping with the family theme, Saigon Night is actually the sister restaurant — in the both metaphorical and familial senses — to Kim's Vietnamese on the far side of Downtown.

Growing up in a household with Very English preferences for food I only recently tried Vietnamese for the first time, so I am still working through the different styles and flavours. I find myself comparing it to other 'asian' cuisines as it seems to have elements of many others. Although many of the dishes are noodle based, unlike frequently heavy/greasy Chinese, Vietnamese dishes have subtle flavours and fresh tastes. There are also similarities with Thai dishes, in the use of rice noodles, basil and lemongrass, but without the heavy spice I associate with Thai. Many dishes arrive topped with garnishes that are very similar to Korean dishes, but with the presentation reminds me of Japanese. I'm not sure if this is a feature of geography, imperialism or coincidence but I find it impossible not to make these comparisons in my head.

October 26, 2012

Deep-fried Tofu
Deep-fried Tofu
As I have mentioned many times before, I am allergic to soy. However, I can't help myself whenever we go for Vietnamese at either Kim's or Saigon Night... I find myself popping an Advil and praying to the anti-migraine fairies before biting into a chunk or two of deep-fried tofu. They are exceptionally crunchy on the outside, although (not to start any sibling rivalries, but...) my partner-in-food-and-life wishes the recipe here is a bit less crunchy than the serving at Kim's. The ginger sauce that you dip it into is slightly sweet and spicy. Proof that anything deep fried can be delicious!

Shredded and Breaded Pork with Rice Noodles
Bún thịt nướng chả giò — Pork & Rice Noodles with Spring Roll
There's something magical about the combination of pork and spring rolls sauced up with the magical, vinegary fish sauce poured on top. The dish is consistently massive, as well as messy to eat, but I find myself drawn to it every time I go to order. This is probably personal preference - I adore spring rolls, and the idea that my meal includes one makes my mouth water! One of these days I will branch out and actually try Pho... with a side of spring rolls. 

Shrimp and Rice
Shrimp & Rice
My p.i.f.a.l., having consumed most of the tofu, opted for something light for dinner. The shrimp came slightly spicy, with more of the sauce on the side to add to the dish as preference requires. Unlike dishes like pho and bun noodles this would be easier to share with another person. 

October 26, 2012
The server recognized my p.i.f.a.l. from lunch times, so we got very friendly reception. Our meal didn't come particularly fast, but we did order both an appetizer and mains so that was probably part of the delay. I think the only reason it felt slow was that the table next to us sat down as our food arrived, and had their meal arrive at the table in seconds.